Education

Cal Poly president, workers forced to evacuate offices due to asbestos

Forbes Magazine selected Cal Poly as the best public master’s university in California when the publication released its list of America’s Top Colleges in 2018 on Tuesday.
Forbes Magazine selected Cal Poly as the best public master’s university in California when the publication released its list of America’s Top Colleges in 2018 on Tuesday. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Some Cal Poly faculty members — including President Jeffrey Armstrong — were forced to evacuate their offices Tuesday after material containing asbestos was released on the second floor of the administration building.

Asbestos is a fibrous, heat-resistant material once commonly used an effective insulator that is also highly toxic. The asbestos reportedly came from recent construction activity in the building on Grand Avenue, according to an email distributed to employees by Facilities Management and Development.

The building was closed about 4 p.m. Tuesday for officials to investigate and clean up. The building remained closed Wednesday.

Cal Poly sent “test samples” to a certified lab in Hayward, which verified that no asbestos was detected in any of the air samples from the building’s five floors.

An email sent out to the campus community Wednesday afternoon said, “the remediation contractor cleaned the area above and below the ceiling on the second floor in the location that was directly affected by the construction work.

“The surrounding area was inspected by environmental consultants, in addition to inspections on all other floors of the building, to confirm that there were no other areas of contamination.”

The email from Facilities Management and Development said crews were being “abundantly cautious” when they decided to close the entire building until further investigation and cleanup could be performed.

All air filters in the building have been replaced, and the building is scheduled to reopen Thursday.

According to asbestos.com — a site sponsored by The Mesothelioma Center — once asbestos fibers are in the body, they never dissolve, and the body has extreme difficulty expelling them.

“Asbestos also causes malignant diseases such as lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma, and it is the No. 1 cause of occupational cancer in the world,” the site says.

Asbestos-related illnesses often take 20-50 years to develop.

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